TORONTO — Jimmy Brennan is the only Canadian Premier League coach or player who has felt Canadian Championship glory.
A previous winner of the Voyageurs Cup (player and coach) with Toronto FC, the York9 FC boss has seen the tournament grow first-hand.
That growth will come to fruition when Canada Soccer lays out the expanded competition on Tuesday with a draw that will map out the entire competition starting with Round 1 matchups for York9, HFX Wanderers, Cavalry FC, Pacific FC, League1 Ontario’s Vaughan Azzuri and the PLSQ’s AS Blainville.
“I won a few with TFC as a player and coach, and I’d love to win one with York9,” Brennan began.
“Because it’s the first year of this format, everyone is gonna have a go at it,” Brennan continued. “We’re keen to show our value in the CPL by getting into stages with MLS teams and showing them what we could do.
“We’re taking all competitions seriously. We’d love to have a great run in the Cup, even to win it. Same goes for the league.”
Vaughan presents the spiciest first-round home-and-away matchup for York9. Ten kilometres separate Vaughan’s home, the Ontario Soccer Centre, from York University’s Alumni Field, making this the only potential local matchup in the first round.
With members of Brennan’s coaching staff and several players coming directly from the League1 Ontario champions just down the road, he sees a potential matchup with Vaughan as “strange.”
“Vaughan would be good. We have a great relationship with that club so it would be pretty funny,” Brennan said.
“Actually, our office is in Vaughan. We have a really good connection. It would be pretty weird, to be honest.
“We’ve taken a couple players from Vaughan, there’s no doubt there’s quality there … I’m sure they’ll be looking to hack a CPL team down as well.
“For Tuesday, I’m looking forward to seeing the competition expand to where it is.”
Out west, Pacific FC’s Michael Silberbauer’s only preference for a Round 1 opponent is “somewhere close”.
But with four out of five potential first-round Canadian Championship opponents in eastern Canada, the odds are stacked against him.
“It will be good to see who we play and how far it will be,” Silberbauer told CanPL.ca. “From there, we can plan it out.”
The two-legged first round will take place May 15 and 22, mere weeks into the CPL’s schedule. With a long road trip potentially in the cards for Pacific, Silberbauer is quick to mention player rotation.
“The trip is going to take a toll on your physique, travelling back and forth in multiple time zones,” Silberbauer continued. “It’s better to keep travel and all of these things to a minimum, especially early on when you’re trying to get into shape. This could be a good chance to rotate the squad a bit.”
Looking to the two non-CPL teams in the draw, Silberbauer says his team needs to be prepared.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if they caused an upset,” Silberbauer said.
“These games would be a yearly highlight for these kids — and if we have just started our own schedule and play one of these teams, we’ll need to be ready. Their biggest game of the year will be one of our first.”
Tuesday’s draw will map out the entire tournament — meaning CPL clubs will find out who they could play in the later stages of the tournament if they advance.
With fellow B.C.-based side Vancouver Whitecaps in Round 3, a clearly inticing tie for supporters, Silberbauer says he’s taking it one match at a time.
“You have to be careful with these early games. It’s not like you have multiple Cups or opportunities to succeed,” Silberbauer concluded.